Last weekend, Colgate’s theater program produced its annual Spring Festival. A showcase of the year’s work, Springfest allows actors, directors and crewmembers to show the campus the fruits of their dedication to the theater program.
After weeks of preparation, six one-act plays were performed in Brehmer Theater Thursday and Friday evenings, with encore performances Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
The festival began with Morris Panych’s The Dishwashers, directed by senior Brooklyn Wheeler. The play took place in the dish room of a first-class restaurant. When newcomer
Emmett, played by senior Liam Huculak, gets a job at the restaurant, he feels the job is below him. As he becomes acquainted with his coworkers, played by first-year Rachel Wassel and sophomore Aaron Rosenbaum, he begins to understand the struggle of achieving one’s potential in a world where most are destined for mediocrity. The play was well acted, with Wassel standing out as the jaded Dressler. While the sudden passages of time made the play feel fragmented, it was nevertheless a fine start.
Next was Kenneth Lonergan’s This Is Our Youth, a story of drugs, romance and rebellion among wealthy New York City adolescents.
The first act, directed by junior Courtney Richardson, is set in the 1980s. Senior Devin Clifford and first-year Zachary LaSavage played Dennis and Warren. When Warren is kicked out of his house, he steals $15,000 and takes it to Dennis’ apartment. The two decide to spend some of it on cocaine in order to make a profit and woo Jessica, played by first-year Carolina van der Mensbrugghe, whom Warren has a crush on. The performance, although entertaining and thought provoking, was slightly hindered by jumbled lines and was somewhat overwhelming, leaving little time for the audience to breathe.
Directed by senior Jeff Smidt, the second act felt more natural than the first. The actors eased into their roles and played well off of one other. As Warren, now played by sophomore Graham Wheeler, contemplates his successful seduction of Jessica, played by senior Alexis Coplin, Dennis (senior Mike Cook) has a crisis as he considers his life’s value. The second act benefited from delving further into the characters’ psyches, uncovering the insecurities that influence their behavior.
The next set of plays opened with Winners, written by Brian Friel and directed by senior Mike Chateauneuf. Narrated by sophomore Kelly McKay, the play is about young lovers who spend a day upon a hill in their Irish town, contemplating their school exams and the impending arrival of their child. Joe and Mag, played by sophomore Xand Lourenco and first-year Sarah Tilley, feel trapped by their town and yearn for something more, often acting out fantasies and imagining their futures. Although the play ends with the apparent suicide of the couple, it is on the whole a touching story with a strong cast.
Miss Julie, written by August Strindberg and directed by junior Raymon Taft, was perhaps the most intriguing of the plays performed. Starring senior Nzinga Job as Christine, sophomore Jordan Scott (replaced in at least one showing by the director, Taft) as Jean, and first-year Emily Rawdon as Julie, the play is a story of class division, racial tensions and forbidden romance. On a summer evening, Jean and Miss Julie engage in an illicit tryst, one that would ruin both involved and destroy Christine’s faith in Jean, her fianc?e. The play explores why these divisions play such a large role in human existence, when the true distinctions in life have little to do with physical status and everything to do with character and morality. With poignant acting and sophomore Allie Geiger’s impressive set design, Miss Julie set a higher standard for student performances.
The final play of the festival was Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love. The play, directed by junior Ryan Dunbar, was full of passion and included some of the stronger performances of the festival. First-year Ming Peiffer starred as May, whose ex-boyfriend Eddie (junior Christian Clifford) shows up minutes before May is to go on a date with Martin, played by senior Shawn Sullivan. Combined with the presence of an unnamed elderly man, May and Eddie’s absent father, played by senior Andrew Potter, who breaks into the scene sporadically with words of wisdom for the characters, the play is constantly in action and crackles with jealousy and infatuation. Peiffer is particularly fiery in her role, externalizing May’s pent up frustrations with Eddie in an impressive fashion, as they both try to cope with their incestuous attraction.
Despite the limited resources and time allotted to each play, Spring Festival was ultimately an enjoyable and impressive event, displaying the numerous strengths of Colgate’s theater program.